Showing posts with label Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Show all posts

Monday, March 17, 2014

Emails About Kierkegaard

I know what you're thinking: "Gee, Todd, your life must be pretty dull if you're exchanging emails about a Danish philosopher from the 19th century." Ok, ok, I hear you, but hear me out.

Let me give you a little background on how this email came about. A couple of friends of mine read my book, The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder, and one of those friends described my book to the other as, "out there." Which is about the best review a writer can hope for. Why? Because this means that the book contained ideas and concepts that the reader didn't necessarily agree with (or thought he didn't), and yet it was written well enough that he was able to get through it, he was able to finish the book. That's big! I couldn't really hope for more.

This fellow, I'm told, is also a big fan of Søren Kierkegaard, the aforementioned 19th century Danish philosopher (these are the upper crust circles of people who actually have favorite philosopher that I run in, folks, what can I tell you?). So much so, in fact, that he named his child after him (Søren, not Kierkegaard). Which I think is pretty cool because it's a pretty cool name, only I hope he didn't use the o with the slash through it (ø), which would probably get a little annoying for the kid.

Anyway, I was only vaguely familiar with the philosophy of Kierkegaard  (I'm a novelist, after all, not a philosopher, or worse a "philosophizer" as Robert Persig puts it in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance), so after the conversation I went on line and brushed up on it, and lo and behold, what did I find but that the depressed Dane agreed wholeheartedly with everything in The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder! He professed, you see, Kierkegaard did, a similar brand of what has been labelled "existentialism."

I had always heard the term bandied about and had an idea what it meant, but not until now did I make the connection between the "existence" in "existentialism" and "being" and "consciousness." These are all exact synonyms. What Kierkegaard was talking about, what Eckhart Tolle is talking about, what I'm talking about in The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder--it's all the same thing.

And now from the email . . . Oh, and be sure to check out the link to the exercise mentioned a couple of times below so you know exactly what we're talking about when we talk about existence.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

5 Stars from Portland Book Review for The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder!

You may be wondering why I keep bringing up The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder. "Why don't you write another book already?" some of you may be thinking. Well, I have written another book. It's working title is The Obamacare Conspiracy and it goes to the editor on March 17th. I'm very excited about that.

But neither book is merely entertainment. They represent the latest generations in a long and hallowed genealogy that begins as far back as Plato's Dialogues, continues on through all the books about Jesus (he never wrote any himself), through St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas and on into the present period with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Zen and the Art could be considered the father of The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder and the grandfather of The Obamacare Conspiracy.

These books unravel a philosophical conspiracy far more important to you and your life than The Da Vinci Code every could. They help you understand what may be missing in your life and how you can feel better--much, much better--without regard to what you believe (or don't believe) religiously speaking.

So the reason I keep bringing it up is because I would love to help you feel better, and The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder is a great place to start (if I may say so, myself). Spend the time on yourself, it'll be worth it.

Of course, the converse is also true. If you have no doubts, no anxiety about the future, no depression at all about the past, no curiosity about the deeper meaning of life, no concern for the constant conflict and suffering that seems to be the state of our existence on this planet, if you've lost faith in your religion or science to help you answer these questions, if everything is peaches and cream as far as you're concerned, that's fantastic! You have no need for these books.

If, on the other hand, peaches and cream wouldn't have been your first choice of descriptors, give The Self-Improvement Book Club a look. But be forewarned: you can't "unlearn" the truths it contains.

The Portland Book Review picked up on the foregoing. It's review by Rachelle Barrett states:
As the detectives question witnesses, delve into the life of the victim and interact with each other, they clarify not only the case but the nature of reality. Bookman and Berg come away from the case irreparably changed by having gained this new knowledge. Whether you are an avid reader of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance or new to these types of books, you will be riveted to the story for one reason or another. And soon you may be introducing this book to a book club of your own.
You can read the entire book review here. For what it's worth, the reviewer's average is 3.9 stars. Thanks, Rachelle!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Another Review The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder on Amazon

Another Review The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder on Amazon, this one from Tom Thompson, of Southern Pines, North Carolina. Tom gave it 5 stars and wrote:
"Great book! I enjoyed it very much. Not at all what I expected. Nice review of the self-improvement literature intermixed with a murder mystery complete with detectives, suspects, and Catholic priest. The author really goes into some depth with the whole Aristotelian model vs. wisdom/in- tuition. Highly recommended for those wishing to explore this area more deeply and from a new angle."
Thanks, Tom!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Two Approaches to Psychological Problems in Children

When I come across an article like "How Quiet is Too Quiet? When Shyness is Actually a Disorder," I always recall the line from Robert Persig's classic book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:
Through multiplication upon multiplication of facts, information, theories and hypotheses, it is science itself that is leading mankind from single absolute truths to multiple, indeterminate, relative ones.
This article is exactly what Persig is talking about. In it, a mother, Kim O'Connell, recounts her experience with her son Declan's extended periods of complete silence, which she discovered has a name: Selective Mutism.

So science has added another category, that's what science is all about. It's a process that began with Aristotle. It's called classification. Selective Mutism is unique, requiring unique handling, unique treatment and possibly unique drugs--multiplication of facts, etc., leading from single absolute truths (root causes, if you will) to multiple, indeterminate, relative ones. The child's behavior, in other words, is meaningless. These are just symptoms of a disease that he's come by at random.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dennis Miller and the God Question

My book, The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder, deals directly with the below issues in Chapters 12 and 13, which focus on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (link to free online version). 

I recommend that anyone interested read my book as a primer, then read Zen and the Art, which is quite a long book, well worth reading, but you have to know what you're looking for and how it all fits together.
* * *
Below is a short audio clip of an Interview from The Dennis Miller Show. Dennis is interviewing Vince Bugliosi, author of Divinity of Doubt: The God Question (as well as Helter Skelter, and others), a book in which Bugliosi intellectualizes many tenets of Christian faith, like virgin birth, immortality of the soul, the divinity of Jesus and others.

In the interview, Bugliosi says that he is an agnostic, and that atheism is an "intellectually empty philosophy. Says Bugliosi of popular atheists like Christopher Hitchens, who he names specifically, "They simply cannot find a non-sequitur that they do not like."
But like such atheists (and religious folk from the opposite side), Bugliosi sets up these straw man intellectual arguments which do not advance the debate at all, but rather simply further obscure the basic difference between religious/spiritual people and intellectual people, which is a PHILOSOPHICAL difference concerning the nature of reality.
This sounds quite esoteric, but let's make it very, very simple:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder Available Now!

Update 2/27/11 - Amazon has put The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder on sale for $9.35 ($8.88 for Kindle). Don't know how long this will last. Thanks, Amazon!

Update 2/23/11 - The Facebook launch is official:

It's official! My book, The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder, is available in both Kindle and paperback on Amazon. Just waiting on Amazon to correct the book description for the paperback before sending out an electronic launch FB event tomorrow.

I'd be honored if you'd buy my book.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder

A Mystery by Todd Wright.

Praise for The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder from Tom Butler-Bowdon, Author of 50 Self-Help Classics50 Psychology Classics (
"Major ideas in self-development and spirituality wrapped in a murder mystery? This weird combination actually works, providing a perfect entree to the field in an entertaining way. Wright has thought deeply about his material and it shows. This book gives self-development a new dimension."
John Bookman is the greatest detective the city of Plimpton has ever known. When socialite Sue Ellen Pinkus is murdered, she uses her dying breath to implicate a self-improvement book club in the crime. Bookman and his partner, Alec Berg, pay a visit to the club. Fresh off a divorce, Detective Berg has a hunch that the solution to the case lies in the content of the various books championed by the eccentric club members. As the interviews progress, Bookman begins to believe that his partner just might be right.

The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder bundles in one slim volume some of the best ideas from some of the greatest minds of our day. A New Earth; The Power of Now; Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People; The Secret; How to Win Friends and Influence People; Rich Dad, Poor Dad; Think and Grow Rich; Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and others are explained and synthesized, enticing readers to explore these life-changing books for themselves.

The Self-Improvement Book Club Murder is a must-read for anyone even remotely interested in personal development, particularly as it relates to spirituality, religion and philosophy.

It's also a darn good potboiler.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Reading List

These 12 books have helped me. They will help you too. Please buy one or all of the below books and actually READ IT/THEM!

If you can't afford to buy any of these books, send me an email with a request for one title along with your name and address, and I will submit your request (anonymously) to my list of 1,000 friends. No guarantees, but one of them will likely respond. At that point, I will email your name and address to that person, who will mail you a copy free of charge, no strings--just blessings--attached.

For a definitive list of Self-Improvement titles, including detailed summaries, please see my friend Tom Butler-Bowdon's website (and books):

Happy reading!

You might also like: Is Eckhart Tolle a Seinfeld Fan?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Warren Buffett's Son Says Values Helped Him Remain Normal

This article was originally published by Technorati on 10 May 2010 as a Simply Spirited feature. To see all my Technorati articles, click Lifestyle in the Contents listing on the sidebar.

Apparently, Peter Buffett, the 52-year-old son of billionaire Warren Buffett has managed to breakout of the stereotype set for him by growing up to be rather normal.

Of course, anything north of self-absorbed drug addict would probably suffice as a breakout life for one born into such wealth, ironically enough. But that's far from Peter Buffett's reality.

Publicizing his new book, called Life is What You Make it: Finding Your Own Path to Fulfillment, he says that his parents taught him "values" that kept him out of trouble and, well, helped him find his own path to fulfillment.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Theology No Substitute for God's Presence

Theology is like gossip about God by people who haven't actually met God.

Theology isn't wrong. It's the seeking part of "Seek and you will find." But if we have an inordinate fascination with theology as an end in itself--if we make theology our "stairway to heaven," so to speak--we miss out on fulfilling our purpose in this life, here and now. Indeed, the human body is a finely tuned instrument, specifically designed for one purpose: knowing God (see The Joy of Being, Explained).

Theology is the study of the idea of God. It is at least one step removed from the actuality of God--God's presence. Ushering people into God's presence is the goal toward which religions aim. Once that's been achieved, theology becomes superfluous.

Theology is a description of the idea of God. When you know someone, to the extent you can know anyone--that is, when you've met a person, been in his or her presence--descriptions become unnecessary.

Author and former nun Karen Armstrong expresses the Buddha's view this way:

"Religion is like a raft. Once you get across the river, moor the raft and go on. Don't lug it with you if you don't need it anymore." (For a thorough account of the Buddha's view, see An Excerpt from Karen Armstrong's Book, Buddha)

[See Eckhart Tolle's view on theology here: Excerpt on Theology from Eckhart Tolle's Book, The Power of Now]

Theology is of man (humanity); spirituality is of God.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How We Know Stuff

The following is a portion of a much longer article called The Philosophy of Success.

How do we come up with ideas?

Robert Persig in his cult classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,says:
"The formation of hypotheses is the most mysterious of all the categories of scientific method. Where they come from, no one knows. A person is sitting somewhere, minding his own business, and suddenly . . . flash! . . . he understands something he didn’t understand before. Until it’s tested the hypothesis isn’t truth. For the tests aren’t its source. Its source is somewhere else. (p. 113)
And our good friend Eckhart Tolle says this in The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, naming Einstein, himself:

"The surprising result of a nationwide inquiry among America’s most imminent mathematicians, including Einstein, to find out their working methods, was that thinking “plays only a subordinate part in the brief, decisive phase of the creative act. So I would say that the simple reason why the majority of scientists are not creative is not because they don't know how to think but because they don't know how to stop thinking!" (Chapter 1)
The way these scientists are coming up with their ideas isn't Aristotelean at all! These are mysteries being described! The Philosopher (as Aristotle was known in the Renaissance) would not approve! So maybe the truth is that Aristotelian thinking (or the Aristotelian faith, you might say) has only survived by its reliance on other modes of thought.

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